Suchel, a State Monopoly With Feet of Talcum Powder / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez
Posted on August 30, 2014
14ymedio, Rosa Lopez, Havana, 29 August 2014 — Just outside the Tienda
Ultra (Ultra Store), an illegal seller advertises deodorants and
colognes. It is precisely in August, this terribly hot month, when the
shortage of hygiene products aggravates the bad odors and other
annoyances. The problem has made the pages of the official newspaper
Granma, which this Thursday published a story looking for answers to the
lack of soap, cologne, toilet paper and deodorant. The text reveals the
tortuous and inefficient ways of Cuban centralization.
The director general of the Cuban company Union Suchel said that
“funding cuts” have limited purchases of raw materials. The statement of
this official contrasts with the monopoly status of this well-known
industry. Suchel has reigned for decades in the domestic market, given
the absence of competitors to push down prices, diversify the product
line and improve the quality of the offerings. Instead, the perfume,
talcum powder and detergent giant has taken advantage of the privilege
of being a State-majority consortium with zigzagging foreign capital.
For 2104, Suchel developed a “reduced production plan” due to the
financial problems facing the entity. Even so, the volumes coming out of
its factories point to mammoth nature of the company still so
influential in its decline. Deliveries for this year in the unrationed
market should reach 17 thousand tons of laundry soap, 17.9 thousand tons
of hand soap, and 9.6 thousand tons of liquid detergent. Packing,
transporting and distributing such quantities has become a real
headache, especially in a country where corruption and the diversion of
resources act as leaks, sucking dry the sources of products and services.
The position of guard in one of the many company plants trades on the
black market for more than 5,000 Cuban convertible pesos
Suchel is undermined by the theft and embezzlement, an issue not
addressed by the article published in Granma. The position of guard in
one of the many company plants trades on the black market for five
thousand Cuban convertible pesos. Working in one of those jobs
guarantees the fortunate employee “under the table” earnings that exceed
in three days what a doctor earns in a month.
The work of the guard consists of simply looking away, to allow the
majority of the merchandise slip away, unregistered in the accounts.
These undeclared goods are sold in the State’s own “hard currency
collection stores” (as they’re called). The profit is distributed among
the managers, drivers and the industry’s own security guards.
In the absence of a free market to test the efficiency of Suchel in
competitive circumstances, the monopoly will continue to impose prices,
quality standards and high costs, as well as to cause chronic supply
Source: Suchel, a State Monopoly With Feet of Talcum Powder / 14ymedio,
Rosa Lopez | Translating Cuba –